Director’s Guest Ann Goldstein mentioned in the New York Times for her translation of “Arturo’s Island” by Elsa Morante.
“Arturo’s Island” is about a semi-orphaned boy’s coming-of-age on the island of Procida in the Bay of Naples in the years just before World War II. The book’s themes — incest, misogyny, narcissism, homosexuality — slide across the pages like lava.
Morante delivers epic emotions. Her people don’t talk so much as they exclaim “with a contemptuous sneer” or “a loud, haughty cry of derision.” They tremble with violent disgusts and savage attitudes. They strike poses of fear, loathing and, in the words of one character, “aggressive, insolent vehemence.” They rattle the cutlery and they rattle each other.
Morante’s themes are not subtle. “Arturo’s Island,” even in Goldstein’s adroit translation, is a sledgehammer performance. But her writing, once you acclimate to its gargoyle extravagance, has the power of malediction.